I, Volkswagen
Stephanie Collins (Australian Catholic University)

October 11, 2019, 2:30pm - 4:00pm
School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies, Monash University

Menzies Building, fifth floor, Room E561
20 Chancellor's Walk
Clayton, Melbourne 3800


Monash University


Abstract: It has become almost platitudinous amongst philosophers that collective agents can be blameworthy for wrongdoing. However, theorists of collectives' moral agency tend to take a functionalist approach, on which collectives are moral agents in much the same way as complicated robots (some leading philosophers, such as Christian List and Philip Pettit, even defend collectives' agency by analogy to robots' agency). This is puzzling: we do not hold robots blameworthy when they cause harm. I suggest we don't hold robots blameworthy because robots cannot grasp their own agency from the first-personal standpoint. This raises the question of how collective agents can grasp their own agency. I give an account of how collectives can do this via their members, so as to vindicate our social-political practice of blaming collectives.

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